After years of meetings and studies, a Fitzhugh Avenue parking lot is now the recommended location for the community park promised by Fair Park First, the non-profit group operating Dallas' Fair Park.
Fair Park First recently shared the new master plan with city officials and with NBC 5 on Wednesday.
“We’ve had over 500 conversations,” said Fair Park First board president Darren James. “We didn’t come in with any preconceived solutions or notions about where we should put a park location or any of the master plan elements.”
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He said the recommended location on what now is a parking lot east of the Dos Equis Pavilion music venue was favored because it could be made more accessible to neighbors.
“It would be accessible year-round, including anytime there is paid activity inside the park,” James said.
The site is also an area of Fair Park that was taken from neighbors in the 1960’s in an effort to buffer the park from the neighborhood by removing 300 homes.
“The Fair Park community was absolutely destroyed,” said former Dallas City Council Member Diane Ragsdale.
She was a student activist at the time and has more recently led the Innercity Community Development Corporation (ICDC) that builds housing for low-income people.
She said a new community park would be nice but the neighborhood needs more to heal a 50-year-old wound.
“A wound that will not close until there is compensation. And when I say compensation, I mean compensation with various programs,” Ragsdale said.
More affordable housing, home repair, improved transportation and workforce development are programs Ragsdale mentions.
“As you raise money for the park, you must raise money for the community. They go hand in hand,” she said.
Building the park could cost $30 million. Private donations will be sought. The goal is to open the community park by 2024.
James said city approval is still needed and the final design is still to be determined but the location was partly recommended to acknowledge the neighborhood that stood on the site before.
“It is something that pays recognition to some of the things that happened in the past,” he said.
A new parking garage structure would also be needed to replace the existing parking on the proposed community park location.